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Mark Lawrenson predicts Spurs v Newcastle United

1 month ago
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Mark Lawrenson predicted victory for Newcastle against Norwich last weekend.

Predicting a 2-1 win for Newcastle, Mark Lawrenson said ‘Although I think Steve Bruce is going to take a bit of time to work out what his best team is, I don’t think they are going to struggle.’

Talking about Norwich a week ago, the BBC Sport pundit described how their defending had been League One standard when losing 4-1 at Liverpool and that if they continued in that vein, they were ‘going to get some beatings.’

Well, after watching that game at Carrow Road, it didn’t look like it is Norwich who are in most danger of regular ‘beatings’ this season.

I think there is a tendency for people to look at Newcastle’s defensive record these past two seasons (only two clubs outside the top four have conceded fewer goals each season) and think that automatically this is going to continue, that the main reason for that excellent defensive form was the individuals making up the defence, rather than overwhelmingly it being Rafa Benitez moulding an ok group of defenders into an excellent defensive unit.

After playing a seriously weakened Arsenal team and newly promoted Norwich, Sunday is the first game of the season against a team that look pre-match as though they could do serious damage if things go the wrong way for Newcastle.

It is a very early in the season test and quick opportunity for these Newcastle players and Steve Bruce, to show that there can be a discipline and tightness restored to the team against what can be an excellent opposition.

Tottenham can be inconsistent but if Newcastle defend like last Saturday and give up so easily as they did against Norwich, then Harry Kane and others could have some serious fun at NUFC’s expense.

Mark Lawrenson now declares that ‘Newcastle are still a bit all over the place’ and that is pretty much how the whole club feels, not just the team on the pitch.

There has to be a starting point for any upturn and whilst a draw or better would be nice, it does feel like a narrow defeat and solid performance wouldn’t be the very worst outcome.

I have seen some people (Newcastle fans, neutrals and pundits) talk about the Norwich defeat coming as a consequence of Newcastle trying to play more open football and subsequently getting punished. Those people clearly didn’t watch the defeat at Norwich because whilst Steve Bruce did claim that his NUFC team would be playing ‘on the front foot’ this season, that isn’t what we saw on the pitch.

Instead, from the first whistle Newcastle were defending very deep with the midfield sitting right in front of the back five, with only very rare counter-attacks. Joelinton and Almiron got pretty much zero support and indeed Newcastle had even less possession (37%) than they did against that seriously weakened Arsenal team.

Predicting¬† a third defeat in a row, Mark Larwenson states: ‘Remember, former boss Rafael Benitez had a bad start last season and they picked things up. Steve Bruce has made some new signings and the fans just need to get behind the team now.’

The Newcastle away end easily sold out and the fans will get behind whatever is out on the pitch on Sunday BUT the most worrying thing at Norwich wasn’t the scoreline, it was how quickly the Newcastle heads went down and players gave up, after only two games Steve Bruce admitting some of the players hadn’t given their all and cancelling the squad’s day off on Sunday.

With a poor to average underinvested squad, Rafa Benitez predictably didn’t have it easy these past two seasons and this meant there were some seriously bad runs of results at times, when he couldn’t get more or less his best team on the pitch and fully fit.

One of those was that start last season with no wins in the opening 10 Premier League games, now that is being used as a bit of a stick to beat Rafa with and to defend Steve Bruce and his players.

Nobody thinks a manager (or head coach…) should be judged on only two games but fans are very concerned because the alarm bells are sounding already, they can see, or believe they can, that this new set-up has serious weaknesses far behind simply losing a couple of games.

None of us wants Newcastle to go on a long run without winning but I do get the feeling that if say Steve Bruce went nine games without winning, a number of pundits etc would still be referring back to Rafa’s opening run of last season.

However, last season, Rafa Benitez then had form of 12 wins and 6 draws in the remaining 28 PL games last season, average one and a half points a game, which is the level of form over a season which put Wolves seventh in the final PL table.

Steve Bruce and his team aren’t capable of bouncing back like that in my opinion and so they need points and better performances in the near future.

It was the players themselves that suggested strongly to us all that confidence and team unity were sadly lacking already, that has to be fixed ASAP or else the fact that the bookies have Newcastle as clear favourites for relegation already, will look more than justified.

Mark Lawrenson talking to BBC Sport – 23 August 2019:

Tottenham are getting used to playing at home now – that usually takes a bit of time.

“Meanwhile, Newcastle are still a bit all over the place.

“They have already lost to Norwich and Arsenal but remember, former boss Rafael Benitez had a bad start last season and they picked things up.

Steve Bruce has made some new signings and the fans just need to get behind the team now.

“Prediction is Tottenham 2 Newcastle 0”

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